I had a lot of fun recently talking to people in Men’s Sheds for a new YouTube video about the pressure some sheds are under to allow women members. The result was some very amusing conversations. I summed up the whole experience in this short article, published on The Australian’s website:
Women are everywhere now. We’ve forced our way into all the workplaces, into the army’s fighting forces, into all men’s organisations, into the pubs. Everywhere you look there are women.
But there was one place that men were safe and that was in men’s sheds. Traditionally in Australia many men had sheds up in their backyard where they could retreat to do their own thing. It led to a Men’s Shed movement across Australia – over 1000 sheds now, particularly attracting older, retired men who come together and support each other. A vital mental health measure given that these older men are the group most at risk of suicide in the country.
But guess what? Women are pushing our way into the sheds too. There are sheds across the country coming under pressure to allow women members and amazingly some have caved in.
Women are being allowed in the door due to a bunch of virtue-signalling men who willingly sell out other males in order to win brownie points from the ladies. These men don’t believe in what men’s sheds are supposed to be all about – that special male companionship that comes from men doing things together, working on projects and enjoying banter and secret men’s talk. They don’t believe men are more likely to share their problems when with other men who get where they are coming from, who know what it’s like to face a broken marriage or prostate cancer.
There’s a good bloke up at Kur-ring-gai called Kevin Callinan who is chairman of the peak body representing men’s sheds, The Australian Men’s Sheds Association. He worked for seven years to set up his local shed but Kevin comes from a background in equity in the workplace. He believes in “inclusiveness” and hence calls his thriving shed simply “The Shed” and women are welcome.
Kevin is a man who doesn’t believe there’s anything special about male culture. “There is to a certain extent but it’s not the be all and end all. I would more prefer a broader mix of society.” When asked whether it changes male culture to include women he said. “It does change male culture – for the good.”
Yet you hear something very different if you talk to most blokes in the Men’s Sheds movement.
“What do you think of women in men’s sheds?” I asked a man from the Kincumber Shed, on the NSW Central Coast. “Ugly!” was his response.
“If women ever came into this shed I would be out the door,” said another.
Many believe the men allowing women into their sheds for cosy “inclusive” little craft sessions are selling out other men – and they are part of a far bigger problem.
There are many men in leadership positions see it in their interests to brown-nose to the ladies rather than stick up for men. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lies about women’s role in family violence blaming the whole problem on men. Men running corporations, our bureaucracies are falling over themselves to institute policies favouring women. Our laws are tilted to favour women victims. The men running our universities promote a fake rape crisis and ignore the increasingly failure rates for male students. And so it goes on.
Men involved in the Men’s Shed movement need to take action to protect these male sanctuaries that enrich the spirit and even save the lives of some men. Come on men – grow a pair and stand up for men!